Honors get reciprocated at JSA luncheon

At the recently held Jewelers Security Alliance’s annual luncheon, the organization customarily gives out its annual James B. White award to law enforcement members who have been especially helpful in stopping jewelry-related crime. But this year, the tables were turned—so to speak.

After president John Kennedy gave the White award to two FBI agents—V.O. Little and Trimetria Singleton — the assembled FBI personnel gave Kennedy and JSA vice president Bob Frank a plaque as well.

“The FBI’s long-term relationship with the JSA is a splendid example of what can be achieved by working closely and cooperatively towards a common goal,” said a letter signed by FBI director Robert S. Mueller III. “Your personal involvement in developing many crime prevention initiatives and programs and your support of the FBI’s major theft investigations targeting criminal enterprises engaged in jewelry and gem theft has enhanced our ability to address this serious crime problem.”

In a speech, Kennedy said he was optimistic about the war on jewelry-related crime, noting it’s only in the last few years that there’s been significant improvement.

“Last year over 350 criminals were arrested who committed crimes against the jewelry industry in the U.S.,” he noted. “This represents a huge increase. Ten years ago the number of arrests was so small we at JSA didn’t bother to track it. Today it is a different story.”

In addition, there were ten jewelry-related homicides in 2003, down from 16 in 2002 and 37 in 1991. Crime against travelling salespeople decreased 20% in the past year.

Kennedy said that the main cause for the improved situation was more attention from law enforcement—itself the result of industry lobbying.

“I see a very different attitude from law enforcement today,” he said. “We now have a strong network of FBI and police personnel who are responsive to this industry.”

But he concluded: “The war against jewelry criminals will never be over. We are never going to be able to say, ‘We won.’ But we are making great progress in making this a safer industry.”

He noted there was more public attention towards the Columbian gangs—including a piece due to air on 60 Minutes in February.